Author Topic: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software  (Read 346 times)

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Offline DK

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Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« on: July 23, 2012, 04:52:27 AM »
To stop a thread de-rail, I'm starting a new thread.

I reckon I need some photo editing software, that needs to give good results, preferably cheap and easy to use. Zab gave me this advice:

Depends on what functionality you're after. For most happy amateurs, Photoshop is way overkill so I don't recommend buying that if all you need is cropping, resizing and adjusting colors. If it's cheap you're after, you wont go wrong with GIMP which is free - but about as powerful as Photoshop (though a little less intuitive in my opinion).

Photomatix is a specialized HDR-editing suite, and retails for 40$ - 100$ depending on what kind of functionality you require. I like HDR photography because it can really bring out some surreal details, although it can also be made to look more down-to-earth if you're into more 'sober' photography.

I've tried GIMP, but I must be an idiot because I can't make head nor tail of it.

At the moment, I most likely will use it for just correcting photos (getting rid of red-eye, adjusting colours) but I'd like the option to have more of a play later on. Is it worth investing in Photoshop?

Are there other photo editing programs available?

Offline Zabulon

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #1 on: July 23, 2012, 05:00:15 AM »
I've tried GIMP, but I must be an idiot because I can't make head nor tail of it.


Neither can I :D

It took me ages to just perform basic editing tasks in it the first time I tried it, stuff that just takes a few minutes poking around in the menus in Photoshop.

By the way, I found this list: http://graphicssoft.about.com/od/pixelbasedwin/tp/freephotoedw.htm
Can't vouch for anything on there, though.
« Last Edit: July 23, 2012, 05:33:41 AM by Zabulon »

Offline Kayto

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #2 on: July 23, 2012, 01:35:45 PM »
My day job is professional retoucher / illustrator (for over 20 years now) mostly for advertising

Adobe Photoshop $699 is certainly the professional standard and has been for maybe 15 years. It is what I use for all retouching, all photo-editing, and some illustration. I would not recommend the extended version to your (or anyone else) unless you know FOR SURE that you need one or more of those very specific features.
http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop.html


Adobe Lightroom $149 was created for photographers. I have not used it myself and have no interest in it for myself but many photo-assistants seem to like it. Anything you use it for can also be done in photoshop (last I knew). But it has a lot less features than photoshop (last I knew). The reason that photographers and photo-assistants like it is that the interface was created for a "once-in-a-while user" and all the illustration and retouching tools of photoshop that just get in their way have been removed. It is said that you can use it for doing the kinds of things a photographer traditionally would do in a darkroom. http://success.adobe.com/en/na/sem/products/lightroom.html?kw=p&sdid=ESDNI&skwcid=TC|22181|adobe%20lightroom||S|e|12466433182

Adobe Photoshop Elements $99 I USED to recommend this to friends who did not want to pay for the "real photoshop." But I haven't used this software in years either so I'm not sure how good it still might be. It used to ship as part of many scanner and digital camera packages. It is a very slimmed-down version of the "real photoshop." It was written with the hobbiest / home user in mind.
http://www.adobe.com/products/photoshop-elements.html

Adobe has also started a "Cloud" service where you can rent the software. I think it is geared toward freelance professionals. But it might be a way to "test" out software for more than 30 days? I'm not sure if they have it for their cheaper software?
https://creative.adobe.com/plans




Gimp, when it first came out (long long time ago) was the free Photoshop substitute (Linix only). I tried it about 15 years ago. At that time it WAS very close to photoshop. But I would wonder if they have been able to keep up and if so to what degree.



Corel used to be the Canadian version of Adobe long long time ago. It seems they no long want to compete and have mostly started writing their products for a different market.

Corel Photopaint(seems to only be sold in the suite $499)  I haven't use it in about 5-6 years. It was Corel's version of photoshop. In most ways it was just as good. In some (mostly illustration) it was better. In others (high-end retouching) it was worse.
http://www.corel.com/corel/pages/index.jsp?pgid=11900110

Paintshop Pro $39.99 / Paintshop Pro Ultimate $49.99 I have not used either of these. I have had many acquaintances who use and like Paintshop Pro. They are home user / hobbiests who use the software to have fun with photos. It can do many gimicky things. I'm not sure how good it is with "real" photo editing tools but it seems to have some.
http://www.corel.com/corel/product/index.jsp?pid=prod4130078
http://www.corel.com/corel/product/index.jsp?pid=prod4220093#tab3

Corel Painter  $359 This is one of the professional choices for illustration (the other being the real photoshop). It has A LOT of retouching and photo-editing tools as well. I typically only use it for illustration because I have both software (photoshop and painter.) Photoshop's interface and tools are better for retouching. But this software could certainly be used to do probably almost all the retouching that I do.
http://www.corel.com/corel/product/index.jsp?pid=prod4130078



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Offline lukebourassa

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #3 on: July 23, 2012, 01:45:34 PM »
Gimp takes a bit to get used to (I used to use a stolen copy of Photoshop, so I was used to that).. but I find it performs all the tasks I need. The rub with Gimp is, most functions that are missing have been created by users and are freely available for download, but I can almost never figure out how to install the plugins. I usually need a whole separate guide for installing basic items like batch processors, etc.

But for retouching, cropping, color correction, and even making goofy images or memes, Gimp works well enough for me. Of course, I'm definitely not a designer, and I have no formal training.
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Offline DK

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #4 on: July 23, 2012, 02:30:07 PM »
Kayto, that's an awesome review. Thank you.

Judging from what you've said, I'm looking at Photoshop Elements or the Paintshop Pro. Not being a professional I can't justify the expense for something that I'm not going to be using everyday. Might look into the cloud thing, see if I can trial some stuff.

Thanks again.

Offline ConspicuousCarl

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2012, 04:47:19 PM »
I use Paint.NET.  It seems simpler than Gimp to me, but that could be because I was used to Paint.NET before I tried Gimp.  Same deal, it's free and you might have to download plugins for advanced features. I was able to move from the old MS photo editor (sucks that they don't include that w/ office any more) to paint.net without being too confused.

Offline dylanharris

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #6 on: July 24, 2012, 12:30:48 AM »
You've not said what operating system you're using, so I'm going to presume Windows 7. That you're asking the question shows it's not the Mac, since that comes with iPhoto which does exactly what you want.

There's no need to spend any money on this. There's quite a lot of perfectly good free photo software out there. It'd be worth you doing a little research yourself, perhaps by downloading half a dozen packages and deciding which one works best for you. PC Mag published a review back in 2011 (http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2371593,00.asp) which might one place to start. Picasa, the Google freebie, is perfectly ok, and I've recommended it to family members, who're still using it.

One reason the GIMP (which happily runs on Linux, Windows, & the Mac, etc..) is a bit of a bastard to use is that it presumes you understand the technicalities of image processing. If you want to do any more sophisticated stuff, as you imply in your OP, you're going to have to understand all of that anyway. Having said that, another reason for the GIMP's reputation is that it was clunky, irrational and presumptive. There's a new version out, with a completely changed user interface (apparently), but I've not played with it.

FYI, I use Aperture & DxO Optics. That's Mac stuff.

Offline Kayto

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #7 on: July 24, 2012, 11:57:01 AM »
Quote
I was able to move from the old MS photo editor (sucks that they don't include that w/ office any more)

Windows 7: Start > All Programs > Accessories > Paint (or are you referring to another one?)
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Offline ConspicuousCarl

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #8 on: July 24, 2012, 02:48:59 PM »
Quote
I was able to move from the old MS photo editor (sucks that they don't include that w/ office any more)


Windows 7: Start > All Programs > Accessories > Paint (or are you referring to another one?)


 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Microsoft_Photo_Editor

It was in need of a patch, and it was euthanized.  Not too fancy, but it had gamma, sharpness, and a few other things not present in Paint.

Offline Rocket Man

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #9 on: July 25, 2012, 03:17:23 AM »
I use Paint.NET.  It seems simpler than Gimp to me, but that could be because I was used to Paint.NET before I tried Gimp.  Same deal, it's free and you might have to download plugins for advanced features. I was able to move from the old MS photo editor (sucks that they don't include that w/ office any more) to paint.net without being too confused.

This right here!!! Paint.net is simple and works great. honestly it'll do everything adjustment related perfectly. Just not so great for photo manipulation as in what people usually consider shops. and it's free
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Offline eusonic

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Re: Consumer Advice: Photo editing software
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2012, 01:58:24 PM »
I'm going to jump in here and defend Lightroom a little.

Adobe Lightroom is fantastic. It's perfect for the sorts of tasks DK described. Kayto's comparison to a dark room is right on. Lightroom can do exposure adjusting, color corrections, sharpening, de-noising, red-eye removal, lens correction, and various effects. What it can't do is compositing or retouching. For example, you couldn't remove a zit, or copy-paste a person from one photo into another.

Lightroom's key strength is in managing and organizing photos. You can group photos into albums, tag, rate, and output slideshows and stuff. This beats the folder-full-of-folders-full-of-jpegs system most people use.

I disagree that Lightroom "was created for a 'once-in-a-while user'." Every professional photographer I know uses Lightroom (or Aperture) as a part of their workflow. Here is a popular workflow:
1. Import photos from camera into Lightroom.
2. Organize photos, using star ratings to identify the best images and weed out the bad images.
3. Adjust the exposure and color balance of selected images.
4. Apply other adjustments as needed, such as de-noising or lens correction
5. Only if an image still needs additional work, export it as a Photoshop file.
6. When you're done in Photoshop, import the file back into Lightroom so that it doesn't get lost and forgotten.

As a more casual photographer, I can accomplish 99% of what I want in Lightroom. I'm an experienced Photoshop user (I use it every day for my job), but I still very very rarely use it on my photos.

 

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